When Did I Become a Troglodyte?

Feb 09, 2024 by HL Bernabe, in Writing Related Stuff

A family member of mine is in her 70s, and doesn’t have internet or a computer. She refuses to get a smart phone because they are too complicated. Her face gets a thousand-yard stare when confronted with anything with a screen or a mouse or buttons. I’m not kidding. I love her dearly, but she cannot navigate the simplest things. She confessed she wants to take some kind of class to learn, but unfortunately, most classes assume you understand how to use a mouse and open a file and have some kind of basic familiarity with computers. Since she doesn’t; she gets lost, frustrated, and gives up. She doesn’t want to be *that* person who is constantly holding up the class because she doesn’t know what somebody just clicked on and doesn’t know if she should double click, left click, or right click.

Now, I’m not as much of a troglodyte as her, but my latest foray into technology is making me feel like one. If you live in America, you know how to navigate computers. I think the only people these days who might have trouble with the basics are part of the older generation. Or they live under a rock. To be clear, I don’t live under a rock. And I’m not old, y’all. I had this conversation with my kiddo just the other day.

“I’m only 52! Wait, 53?” I paused, doing the mental calculations. “Yeah. I’m 53.”

My kiddo stared at me. Blink, blink. A smile curled at the corner of their lips.

I groaned. “Does not remembering how old I am mean I’m old?”

They snickered at me! Can you believe the audacity? I’m NOT old!

Anyway… back to the technology issue. Independent authors must do more than just write and edit their books. Essentially, indies must become social media managers, publishers, cover designers, marketers, publicists, event planners, and so on and so on, because hiring people to do those jobs for us costs money that most of us don’t have. Heck, traditionally published authors must do a lot of those things these days, as well! Having to wear so many hats means getting organized and learning how to use a bunch of different software and tools. Last year, I figured out editing software, BookFunnel, Canva, Atticus, Zoom, PubSite, MailerLite, the Amazon Author Platform, and lots of other technical fiddly stuff, besides.

Last month, I learned how to use Story Origin. It was kind of like BookFunnel, but different enough to have its own challenges. Last week, I tried out Scrivener again. I purchased it several months ago and found it too fiddly then. I didn’t have time to fuss with it.

I gave Scrivener another try because I watched a very helpful workshop. Unfortunately, it was one of those things that was limited access only, since the free lesson was really a pitch to get me to pay for the entire course. The freebie was packed with information, though, and if I could have afforded it, I would have sprung for the entire thing, because it was extremely helpful. The lightbulb went off over my head as I realized how I could use the program to be better organized about my writing and do all kinds of nifty things. Unfortunately, about 80% of what I learned from watching the lesson is now gone from my brain. Ugh.

If you had been watching me take the tutorial, you would have been sad for me. I struggled! I had the video on one side of the screen and Scrivener opened on the other side, and I was pausing the video and searching for the thing he was showing so that I could figure out how he did each thing as he did it. Sometimes I had to rewatch stuff two or three times to get it. I felt like my technologically challenged family member. “Wait! Where did you click to get that thing? Where did your cursor go? Slow down! You’re going too fast!”

I had this same problem when trying to figure out what kind of project management tools I should use, because I decided that my paper planner just wasn’t cutting it anymore. Yes, writing things down in my little book helps. But I have so much to do, on so many fronts, that it feels overwhelming sometimes. I need something to record all I want to do, break it down into the associated tasks, figure out timelines, and keep track of my progress.
I’ve used Trello before. I used it, in fact, to come up with my story beats for my series a few years ago. So, I’m sorta kinda familiar with it. I haven’t used it since then. I also heard of ClickUp and Asana recently, so I thought I would look into them as alternatives.

Now I know why my dear family member gets the thousand-yard stare when confronted with new technology. I’m sure I did, too. My eyes glazed over. I think the YouTuber was talking in a foreign language. Teams, flow-through, customizing, views, workflows… He went so goddamn fast; I couldn’t keep up at all. Dude! I don’t have a staff! It’s just me! The list thingies looked nice, and if I can figure out how to do the workspace to space to folder to list order thing, maybe it will work for me. I may not be old, but I think I officially need the “old people” version of the tutorial. “Where did the task bar go? It’s still there. You gotta hover over it with your cursor up here in the black part. See? There it is. Now click on that icon that looks like an inbox. No, not the one that looks like a toe tag. This one over here. Great! Now—”

I might take a gander at Trello again. Hopefully, it hasn’t changed too much in the last few years and I can figure it out. I just need to get organized. I don’t need a project management product designed for a 250-person team or even a ten-person team. Something simple will do. So simple, an old troglodyte like me can handle it. Anybody know of a good program like that? Most importantly, a FREE program like that?

(Even better—can someone pay for a virtual assistant for me? I’ll kiss your feet, but only if they’re clean. It would be nice to free up my schedule to focus on the things that I really want to spend my energy on, like creating my books, and not have to spend it on all the bazillion things that need to be done that take me away from the creative side).

This year, with everything I want to do, is going to be full of technological challenges. Wish me luck.